208

Ellis Marsalis Quartet: An Open Letter to Thelonious

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
To many, he is the patriarch of America's most celebrated jazz family. But to those who've heard him play, he's a talent not to be overlooked.

Ellis Marsalis is one of the most respected among the New Orleans-based jazz artists. A former Marine, he played the circuit in New Orleans before hooking up with Ornette Coleman. Over the years, Marsalis built an extensive resume as musician, professor of music and, of course, father to Wynton, Branford, Ellis III, Delfeayo, Miboya and Jason. Now, Marsalis leads a quartet, comprised of himself on piano, son Jason on drums, Derek Douget on saxophones, and Jason Stewart on bass.

An Open Letter to Thelonius is a tribute to another distinguished jazz artist: the late Thelonious Monk. "Jackie-ing" is a delightful melody that features Douget on the tenor. Like all the other tracks on this album, it does justice to the original recording but allows for some creativity among the players. Jason Marsalis is crisp on the cymbals during his father's solo. Stewart, though mostly in the background, is strong. Jason later delivers an engaging solo, scoring well on the snare and toms.

The quartet is in full swing on the often-covered "Straight, No Chaser." Jason Marsalis sets the tone with some deft work on the hi-hat, while his father and Stewart help underscore Douget's tenor sax lead. As the song moves along, Jason mixes up his beat with some rolls on the snare and toms. Ellis Marsalis then takes point with a "let the good times roll" solo. Stewart then follows with a solo of his own.

Marsalis plays alone on "'Round Midnight," a fitting performance. Despite the absence of other instruments, this isn't a sleepy solo-piano effort. Marsalis' dexterity and sense of timing keep this one interesting throughout.

One need not be a fan of Thelonious Monk—although it helps—to appreciate the effort by the Ellis Marsalis Quartet. An Open Letter to Thelonious is just that, a message to the artist that says, "Thank you for gift to us." As with any open letter, it's a message meant to be shared by everyone.

Track Listing: Crepescule With Nellie; Jackie-ing; Epistrophy; Monk's Mood; Straight, No Chaser; Light Blue; Teo; Ruby, My Dear; Rhythm-a-ning; Round Midnight; Evidence.

Personnel: Derek Douget: saxophone; Ellis Marsalis: piano; Jason Stewart: bass instrument; Jason Marsalis: drums.

Title: An Open Letter to Thelonious | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ELM Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Bright Yellow with Bass CD/LP/Track Review Bright Yellow with Bass
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Wanderlust" CD/LP/Track Review Wanderlust
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Second City" CD/LP/Track Review Second City
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 1, 2017
Read "Tales From Under" CD/LP/Track Review Tales From Under
by James Nadal
Published: July 5, 2017
Read "Spirits" CD/LP/Track Review Spirits
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 2, 2017
Read "I Try To Remember Where I Come From" CD/LP/Track Review I Try To Remember Where I Come From
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 17, 2017
Read "The Space Between" CD/LP/Track Review The Space Between
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.